Media Debunk Carly Fiorina's “Utterly Wrong” Debate Claim That 92 Percent Of Job Losses Under Obama Were Women

Media outlets called out Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina's “utterly wrong,” “wildly misleading,” and long discredited claim at the October 28 CNBC presidential debate that women held 92 percent of the jobs lost during President Obama's first term, pointing out that that statistic is recycled from Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and newer data completely contradicts Fiorina's claim: women actually gained jobs by the end of Obama's first term.

CNBC Debate Moderators Let Carly Fiorina Push Previously Debunked Claim On Job Losses For Women

Fiorina Claimed 92 Percent Of Jobs Lost During Obama's First Term Were Held By Women. During CNBC's October 28 Republican presidential debate, moderator Becky Quick unquestioningly allowed Carly Fiorina to declare that “92 percent of the jobs lost during Barack Obama's first term belonged to women”:

CARLY FIORINA: Becky, it is the height of hypocrisy for Mrs. Clinton to talk about being the first woman president when every single policy she espouses, and every single policy of President Obama, has been demonstrably bad for women. Ninety-two percent, 92 percent of the jobs lost during Barack Obama's first term, belonged to women. Senator Cruz is precisely right. Three million women have fallen into poverty under this administration. The number of women living in extreme poverty is the highest level on record. I am a conservative because I know our values, our principles, and our policies will work better to lift everyone up, men and women.

BECKY QUICK: Thank you, Mrs. Fiorina. [CNBC, Republican Presidential Debate10/28/15]

Media Call Out Fiorina's Claim As “Wildly Misleading,” “Utterly Wrong”

Washington Post's Glenn Kessler: Fiorina's Claim Is “Utterly Wrong,” Women Had Net Gain Of Jobs During Obama's First Term. Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler, who noted the “92 percent” claim was dropped by Mitt Romney's campaign in 2012 because it was “obsolete,” ruled Fiorina's statement “utterly wrong” and pointed out that “by the time [Obama] took the oath of office a second time, his jobs record was a net winner, both for men and women”:

Fiorina, who served as a surrogate for Mitt Romney's during his 2012 presidential run, recycles a misleading talking point from that unsuccessful campaign -- but oddly, she never double-checked the math. The Romney campaign calculated these figures by comparing the decline in the number of all nonfarm employees from January 2009 to March 2012 with the decline in jobs held by women in that period.

While the statistic was technically correct for one month in 2012 -- about three years into Obama's first term -- it quickly was dropped by Romney's campaign because newer economic data made it obsolete.

In the debate, Fiorina claimed that this statistic was true for Obama's first term. But by the time he took the oath of office a second time, his jobs record was a net winner, both for men and women. So this claim is utterly wrong. [The Washington Post10/28/15]

Vox: Fiorina's Claim Is “Wildly Misleading,” Women Actually Gained Jobs Under Obama's First Term. Vox called the claim “wildly misleading” and simply “not true,” explaining that the “badly cherry-picked” figure was based on incomplete economic data when Romney said it, and that more recent data shows “a net job gain for women of about 400,000 jobs” by the end of Obama's first term:

If [Fiorina's claim] seems hard to believe, it's because it's not true. Fiorina repeated a claim Mitt Romney made during his 2012 presidential run, which PolitiFact rated “mostly false.” Romney's campaign objected to the rating at the time, but PolitiFact stood by its original piece.

What's more, the Romney figure is also badly out of date, and doesn't capture what actually happened to women in Obama's first term at all.

The 92 percent figure is badly cherry-picked


It's worth noting that focusing on Obama's first term ignores the many jobs that both genders gained in Obama's second term, as the chart above shows. Romney couldn't have known that in 2012, of course, but Fiorina should have known better in 2015.


Now, in 2015, we can look at the entirety of Obama's first term in office. When you do that, you actually see a net job gain for women of about 400,000 jobs. [Vox, 10/28/15] Fiorina Used A “Dated, And Now Incorrect, Talking Point,” Women Gained 416,000 Jobs By End Of Obama's First Term. noted that Fiorina used a “dated, and now incorrect” talking point during the debate, pointing out that data from Obama's full first term shows that “women gained 416,000 jobs”:

Fiorina revived a dated, and now incorrect, talking point from Mitt Romney's campaign in 2012 when she claimed that “92 percent of the jobs lost during Barack Obama's first term belonged to women.”It's true that in the early years of Obama's presidency, job losses from the recession continued to mount, and women lost a higher percentage of those jobs. But that ignores the massive job losses by men in the recession prior to Obama taking office. And by the end of Obama's first term, both men and women had gained jobs.


Fiorina, however, referred to “Obama's first term,” and, of course, we now have access to data from the entirety of that first term. And looking at the full four years of Obama's first term, both men and women gained jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women gained 416,000 jobs in Obama's first term (about 32 percent of the overall job gains).

As for Obama's second term, women have gained another roughly 3.5 million jobs between January 2013 and September 2015. That accounts for 49 percent of the overall job gains during Obama's second term. [, 10/29/15] Fiorina Used “Highly Deceptive” Statistic, Number Of Women Employed During That Time “Actually Increased.” MSNBC found fault with Fiorina's “highly deceptive” statistic, noting that when it was first used by Romney it was considered to be “misleading,” but with newer data, “it turns out, the number of women employed in the U.S. from January 2009 to January 2013 actually increased.” MSNBC also highlighted Fiorina's consistent tendency to make false claims in GOP debates, writing, “This isn't the first debate in which some of Fiorina's claims have been met with skepticism”:

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina claimed during Wednesday night's Republican presidential debate that 92% of the job losses in President Obama's first term belonged to women -- a number that sounds shockingly high.

There's a reason for that: The statistic is highly deceptive. 


But Fiorina specifically referred to “Obama's first term” during the debate in Colorado. However, we now have the complete numbers. And it turns out, the number of women employed in the U.S. from January 2009 to January 2013 actually increased.


This isn't the first debate in which some of Fiorina's claims have been met with skepticism. During last month's face-off, she dramatically referenced a secretly recorded video from an anti-abortion group. However, no independent organizations have been able to verify that such a video exists. [, 10/29/15]

PolitiFact: The Statistic Used Was Originally “Cherry-Picked,” But “The Bigger Problem” With The Claim Is “Women['s] Job Numbers Did A U-Turn And Became A Net Gain.” PolitiFact examined Fiorina's claim and determined it to be “false,” writing that while the claim in 2012 was only “cherry-picked,” it's more egregious to cite it now because “women['s] job numbers did a U-turn and became a net gain” during Obama's first term. From the October 29 PolitFact article:

The bigger problem with Fiorina making the same statement today is that Obama's first term continued for another 10 months.  During that time, the women job numbers did a U-turn and became a net gain.

The government data show an increase of 416,000 working women between January 2009 and January 2013. Total employment also rose by 1.3 million. So more women actually were working at the end of Obama's first term compared with the day he first took office. 

We used the January 2009 to January 2013 timeframe to be consistent with the original Republican framing of the critique of Obama's economic policies. 

Our ruling 

Fiorina said 92 percent of the jobs lost during Obama's first term belonged to women. By January 2013, the jobs numbers don't back it up at all. The number of women with jobs increased by 416,000 during Obama's first term.

We rate this claim False. [, 10/29/15]

Politico: Fiorina “Cherrypick[ed]” Job Numbers, Used “Shaky Data” To Reach Claim. Politico noted Fiorina was “cherrypicking one period in the midst of the recession,” including before Obama took office, to make her claim, and pointed out PolitiFact rated the claim “mostly false” when Romney made it in 2012:

Carly Fiorina revived a familiar line of attack when she said 92 percent of jobs lost under President Barack Obama's tenure belonged to women.

She's echoing a claim Mitt Romney made in 2012, which PolitiFact rated at the time as “mostly false.” The numbers are derived from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Between January 2009 and March 2012, there was a net job loss of 740,000. Women, during that time period, lost 683,000 jobs, or 92 percent. However, by cherrypicking one period in the midst of the recession, the figures ignore the job losses that occurred at the start of the recession, before President Barack Obama took office. Those job losses tend to hit men first. [Politico, accessed 10/29/15